What should I pay for a website?

A website is a vital aspect to running any business, organization, or event in today’s economy. Especially when starting a business, it is important to invest in a website that will support your company’s purpose and get information to clients and potential clients. One question every business owner has when beginning to look for a web design company is “how much will it cost?” The answer is simple yet complex: it depends. There are many ways to create and run a website, as well as many options for features, functions, and usability. The cost of a website varies depending upon your needs and desires for the site as well as on the ability and credibility of a design company.

web design process


Factors that affect website costs:

  • Type of person/agency you hire: There are many different web design companies and independent designers out there who charge a wide variety of amounts for their services. You might find someone who is willing to build you a site for a relatively lower cost without being connected to an agency or an established web design company. There are likely people out there who have the capability and experience to build and design a site that would fulfill your needs. However, like with any product or service, it will be easier to find a reputable company with a track record of success. Depending on how established the company is and how their pricing is set up, your costs could vary slightly between agencies. Agencies will have more reliable project dates and will be always available to consult if you have issues with your site and should be up to date on the latest security and coding practices.
  • Design: A website design is what the customer/shopper/user will see when visiting your site. It’s the way the site looks, feels, and interacts with users. The price of a site will change depending on the amount of work the developer puts into crafting the site’s design. If you want a website that is unique and designed just for you, it will cost more than if you want a designer to work with a pre-designed template which is used by many other sites. In some cases, a template design works just fine and gets the job done. In other cases, businesses want very elaborate or very specific designs for their sites to enhance the user experience.
  • Features: How would you like your website to work? Does it need to have a lot of images, video, or other engaging content? Would you like to have comment boxes, coupons, downloadable items, a shopping cart, a live calendar? Any of these features and many others are available for your site, and will all increase the cost. A good agency will have basic websites available with common features bundled together so you won’t have to shop for them a la carte.
  • Custom Programming: Sometimes the functionality of a website will require features that are unusual or very specific to a company. Web developers often spend time programming to create the ability to add in any features that are needed to make their clients’ websites perfect. The amount of custom programming your site needs and, therefore, the amount of time the agency spends on creating these solutions will be reflected in the cost of the site.
  • Integrations: Many websites require connections to other web applications or developments in order to fulfill their purpose. For example, if you want people to be able to purchase and pay for items on your website, your designer will likely integrate a third-party payment application. If the success of your website depends on a lot of these integrations, the price could go up significantly along with functionality.
  • Usability: Creating a website is about more than just designing, developing, and publishing it. Designers spend time making sure the site will make sense to visitors- that it’s user friendly and welcoming, laid out in a logical way, and functioning at its best speed and efficiency. The proficiency of your designer in user experience and the amount of time spent on this aspect will be worth the extra money you will pay for this service.


General pricing model for types of websites:

In some aspects, building a website is a lot like building a house. If you want the house (or website) to be low cost, you purchase a very basic, template home which already has structured walls and windows but you can fix up to make your own. The home may never have all the upgraded features you dreamt of, but it is a house and you can live in it. More than likely, there are many other homes (or websites) out there which are very similar. If you want to spend a bit more on your house (or website), you can start new construction and decide on all the details like the size of the rooms, the location of the bathrooms, the color of the tile, and the size of the water heater. If you want all the special features like a hot tub, a movie room, and a laundry shoot, you’ll have to pay more to have those built. Similarly, you can build a custom website with all of your favorite, unique features if you’re willing to pay for the work it requires.

  • Basic website ($2,500-$5,000): this is the option for a template type of site. Most designers and agencies will offer this basic option which will come with a general graphical design and simple features. You may have to either add in your own content or pay a bit extra to have your content added at this rate.
  • Advanced website ($5,000-$10,000): most businesses can happily get by with a website in this price range. This amount should pay for a pretty nice design and many of the features you would like to add. The developer will also be paid for their time adding in all your content and formatting it to fit your site beautifully.
  • Custom website ($10,000+): this price range is suitable for very complex sites with a large amount of online content. Websites the cost $10,000 or more would require many custom-programmed features, third-party integrations, and other high-tech (high-cost) features.


Ongoing vs fixed costs:

The initial cost of a website will be the main, fixed cost, but there are also ongoing costs that are involved which are worth considering. Initial costs will be many of the things discussed in this overview, while other necessary features will have an ongoing costs. Some ongoing costs could be:

  • Domain name: When you buy a website, you will be paying for the name and link of the place where your website is hosted. This is generally a nominal fee.
  • Hosting and server security: Your web designer should have a secure server and hosting options for your site.
  • Editing ability: If you have significant ongoing edits to make to your website, you’ll have to pay your developer for the time that goes into making those changes. This is true unless you pay a larger up front cost to have your programmer design a user-friendly platform so you can make edits on your own. This may be a good investment if you think your site will need changes often.
  • Payment gateways: If your site is e-commerce able, there will likely be an ongoing cost of paying the third-party payment system.


There is not one straightforward answer to the question of website costs other than “it depends.” Depending on the size, design, functionality, and time that goes into your site, the cost can range from a few to many thousands of dollars. Your budget for your site will determine how easy it is to use, how much access you have to make changes, and what type of purpose it serves for your business. Having a great site is extremely important to run any business, so it is always best to invest as much as you can in making the site perfect for you.